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Small host cities facing big weather challenge

sports Updated: Jun 04, 2008 16:14 IST
Mark Ledsom

Euro 2008's small host cities are likely to face a big challenge on the tournament's opening weekend with bad weather forecast to disrupt the organisers' open air plans.

Room has been made for tens of thousands of supporters at outdoor fan zones in the eight host cities across Austria and Switzerland but organisers said many would struggle to provide covered alternatives in the case of storms or heavy rain.

"I would not go as far as to call it a disadvantage but the small, compact nature of the Swiss and Austrian host cities would certainly present us with a challenge if the weather was bad," said Swiss tournament director Christian Mutschler.

"It was similar in Germany, though, before the 2006 World Cup with bad weather right up until the start of the tournament and then a month of almost constant sunshine. So we're hoping history will repeat itself," he told Reuters.

There were frequent showers and summer storms across both countries in May. While the past few days have been brighter, bad weather is forecast to return on Saturday for the opening game between Switzerland and Czech Republic in Basel.

"It looks like there will be showers and storms until at least the start of next week," Swiss weather department meteorologist Urs Keller told Reuters on Tuesday.

"The long-term forecast is a bit more positive with an estimated 50 percent chance that June could be slightly warmer than average."

Austria's meteorological office said on Tuesday that thunder and lightning would likely accompany Austria's opening match against Croatia in Vienna on Sunday.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)